Mental Experience 2016
Southend-On-Sea’s long-forgotten constructivists uncover their past to reclaim the band’s avant-garde stance and drift into tomorrow.
Disrespectful to anything, including music rules, this band could’ve been up with the greatest art-rock ensembles if they showed a bit of discipline – but they wouldn’t do that, and when an audience member was protesting against the trio’s volume or absence of a clear melody, the players got down on him as hard as they went about their instruments. It’s quite surprising, then, that the ensemble lasted quite long, fix six years, but their two cassette-only albums became cult items and 2008 saw the group reformed. Now, it was clearly time to remind avant-garde aficionados how RS sounded back in the day with a previously unreleased studio session from 1978 and a part of a Lindisfarne Hall concert from 1976 as an opening act for fellow travelers HENRY COW.
Obviously, the latter is more unhinged, Roger Telford’s drums doing a mid-paced tribal dance through a set of improvisations and teasing wild, though alluring, wails out of Jon Seagroatt’s sax and bass clarinet that tonally challenge Ian Staples’s guitar. Effects coming out of percussion in “Circuitry 3” may be mistaken for synthesizers, but the piece’s minimalism had to be natural to get dense in its weave of reeds, six-string and an occasional whistle. Much cleaner, the “Nakamichi” series, recorded at the end of the band’s original lifespan, careens towards free jazz and even blues, with memorable tunes and rock riffs popping up here and there to weave in and out of a unison lock. The result is angular but arresting as only chaos being ordered can be, and while it’s not for the faint of heart, KING CRIMSON aficionados should eagerly apply to hear this record.